The story is familiar. Successful professional, mother of 2, dedicated to her work, building a career, juggling life’s responsibilities with seeming ease, contribution to the community, changing the world with her work, collapses in the office. The doctors struggle to find the cause but eventually rule it extreme fatigue.
You read this story and feel for the kids. The day before, you would envy her success. Today, you might even judge her for working too hard and not being there for her kids more. How could she make such choices?
You also cringe because you see her story in yours. You also are driven. You sleep with our smartphone nearby. You’re on call 24/7 because the client/customer/boss might need you.
You know this is a crazy way to live. Yet, you can’t stop yourself.
The evidence is mounting that our overworked cultural norm is not serving us. It is making us sicker, unhappier, less productive and disconnected according to Arianna Huffington in her latest book Thrive. As a nation we have lost our way.
But what about you? Statistics and “epidemics” have a way of selling books and having us see the problem in our friends. But what about you?
Maybe you’re functioning just fine. Sure, you could use more sleep, exercise and a day off. But are you really part of the problem?
The question I have for you today is are you a workaholic?
Being addicted to work is accepted in a way that being addicted to drugs or alcohol is not. But just because it’s accepted, doesn’t mean its healthy for you.
You Know You’re A Workaholic If . . .
- You work more than 40 hours a week. I remember when a friend learned I was working 60+ hours a week. She said, “wow, how do you do it?” I wondered why she was so surprised, didn’t everyone work that much? Yep, when you think working over 40 hours is normal, you’ve got a problem.
- Your favorite subject is work. When someone asks you how you are, do you immediately dive into the project you are working on or how you are upset about some co-worker? If work is your go to subject in conversation, it’s a sign you have a problem.
- You constantly focus on the future, worrying about what will happen. Whether you’re worried about losing the deal or winning the deal, your focus on “what if” is driving your cortisol levels and creating stress. Indeed, it’s likely you believe you need that stress to keep going.
- You work during most meals. Most of us eat lunch while checking email on occasion. It’s not a crime and it won’t make you a workaholic. But working during breakfast, lunch AND dinner, is a red flag that you’ve forgotten how to relax and enjoy life.
- You are doing something you are passionate about, so long hours don’t matter. There’s a meme on Facebook these days: “working hard about something we don’t’ care about is called stress. Working hard for something we live is called passion.” It doesn’t matter if you love your work or not. If you work long hours, it’s still an addiction to work.
- Your work has no boundaries. You work in bed. You work by the pool. You work on vacation. If you can’t put work down – even when you’re on a beautiful beach in Hawaii, you have a problem.
- Interruptions annoy you. Sure, we all love uninterrupted time to concentrate, but you meet interruptions with an eye-roll, an exasperated sigh, a look that could kill, a snippy answer or some other expression of “don’t bug me.” Yep, you have a problem.
- You dream of work. You keep a notepad by your bed because you often have a dream about some problem at work. Sure, we all get hits of inspiration in the oddest places, but you dream day and night about work.
- You believe that raise will make you happy. Just another $10,000 would make life so much better. You could get a dog walker. Or a personal assistant. Or a nicer car. None of these things are bad, but if you believe happiness comes from proving to the boss you’re worth a few more thousand dollars each year, you’ve got a problem.
If two or more of these describe your life, you are a workaholic.
You Can Recover
Because being addicted to work, being crazy busy, and overwork are celebrated in America, it can feel impossible to recover from your addiction. Who will support you in your decision to create more balance and peace? It certainly won’t be your boss.
Or will it?
What will happen to your projects, your metrics and your direct reports if you take a vacation? Certainly they will falter.
Or will they?
In this blog, I’ve shared the benefits of work-life balance on your personal and professional well-being. I’ve shown you how eating energizing and grounding foods will reduce anxiety and boost productivity, how practicing mindfulness can reduce stress and how connecting with your abundance will make you happier.
But I get how all of that can feel like shelf-help; the advice that sounds good but never gets executed. Today is the day all of that ends. Today is the day you get the secret to busting through your work addiction. [queue drum roll]
The secret is to understand that . . .
Yes, the secret to end your work addiction is that simple: you matter.
. . . You are not a machine, no matter what some boss might have led you to believe.
. . . You are not the number in your bank account.
. . . You are not your title . . . your net worth . . . the letters behind your name . . . or the location of your office.
You ARE a human being. Not a human doing.
You ARE a collection of atoms with feelings and desires.
You ARE a connection point for your family.
You ARE the smile that changes a stranger’s day.
You ARE the gift that eases a friend’s pain.
You ARE a spark weighting to burn bright with joy, passion, vibrancy and love.
Accept that you matter, and every thing else will be easy.